Joey Dorgan came from Morgan City, MS where he spent several years as a leading member of the Southern Bells gospel quartet. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1957 where he joined the Zion Travellers before making the switch to secular music around 1968.
His first release under his new stage name Joey Dees (sometimes “Dee’s”) was for Romeo Taylor’s interesting label Me-O and the excellent deep ballad Your Love, like so many of his tracks, was penned by Joey himself. The structure of the song is a simple one, just triplet piano, guitar, background harmonies and Joey’s heartfelt baritone, which has some lovely gruff touches in it.
His second release was the dancer’s favourite “I Need Your Lovin’” which is hard driving southern soul with a full horn section and some tough Big O style vocals from Joey. This very good side is complemented by the down home blues of “Sad Sad Xmas” on which he gives a very fine throaty performance.
In the early 80s Dees recorded for the tiny Mazel Express concern releasing a couple of 45s and a fine album. The first single coupled another dancer “Sexy Lady” with the midpaced soul blues of “He Don’t Love You” which bears comparisons with the sort of music that the great Z Z Hill was laying down at the time – and with the same sort of gritty approach too. The second Mazel Express release coupled the song that was to be the title track for the album, Music Is My Life with the less successful synth laden “Sing Me A Love Song”. The former track is a really strong one especially for the date of release – a real throwback to the early 70s.
And although there were some disappointments on the LP, which naturally included all four of the tracks already released, there were also a couple of real beauties. The southern soul sound of Here Stands Your Fool for example, is a really strong ballad, and the excellent uptempo “Tired Of Being Lonely” on which Dees’ Otis Redding flavoured vocals are really well delivered.
Throughout his time in the music business Dees worked full time at the Los Angeles County in various departments until a bad accident forced his retirement in 1977. But music was his life as he made plain in his track of that name – and I hope it still is.
Your love / I’ve got to have you ~ ME-O 222 (late 60s?)
I need your lovin’ / Sad sad Xmas ~ WATTS WAY 645 / BLUE DOLPHIN 814 (1972)
Sexy lady / He don’t love you ~ MAZEL EXPRESS 0001 (1984)
Music is my life / Sing me a love song ~ MAZEL EXPRESS 0002 (1984)
Music is my life ~ MAZEL EXPRESS 001 (1986)
Note ~ The album has now been issued on CD in several countries.